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army, chief astronomer and surveyor, and G. Clinton Gardner, assistant astronomer and surveyor, on the part of the United States.
Under instructions from the State Department, the United States commission was duly organized and directed to repair to Fuca's straits, via San Francisco, to meet the British commission. At the close of June, I met Captain Prevost, the British commissioner, at Esquimault harbor, at the southern end of Vancouver's island, and was informed by him that until the arrival of Captain Richards, second commissioner, with the surveying party, he was not prepared to enter upon the determination of the water boundary. The United States commissioner therefore proceeded to the western terminus of the 49th parallel, on the main land, and established a depot and located an observatory, for the commencement of the survey along the 49th parallel, eastward, to the crest of the Rocky mountains. The British government not having yet provided a commissioner for that part of the boundary line, we were obliged to commence the work without its co-operation. Reconnoissances and explorations in the vicinity of the boundary line were at once commenced, and continued as long as the season permitted field operations. Before the spring, four astronomical points on the 49th parallel were determined, and the country thoroughly reconnoitered in the vicinity of the parallel, for a considerable distance eastward.
Towards the close of October, Captain Prevost visited the 49th parallel and informed me that Captain Richards had not yet arrived, but that, as he had satisfied himself of the general accuracy of the United States Coast Survey chart of the channels and islands between the continent and Vancouver's island, he should act independently of him. He therefore proposed that we should at once proceed to the determination of the water boundary. Several meetings of the joint commission accordingly took place, at which the question of the boundary channel was verbally discussed. The British commissioner claimed Rosario straits, (the channel nearest the continent,) while I claimed the Canal de Haro, (the channel nearest Vancouver's island) as the boundary channel, intended by the treaty. Between these two channels lies the Haro archipelago, a group of islands, of which San Juan forms a part.
The verbal discussion was followed by a correspondence on the subject, in which the merits of the question were fully set forth. Captain Prevost concluded the correspondence by a proposition to compromise the difference, by running the boundary through an intermediate channel which would secure the island of San Juan to Great Britain. This proposition I declined.
For more full information in regard to the question of the water boundary, I would respectfully refer to S. Ex. Doc. No. 29, 2d session 40th Congress. This document contains the correspondence above referred to, with a geographical memoir of the islands in dispute, and a map and cross-sections of the channels.
In conformity with the fifth section of the act organizing the commission, the President (through the Secretary of the Treasury) directed the Superintendent of the Coast Survey to place the steamer Active and brig Fauntleroy at the disposal of the commissioner, when required. Both vessels were accordingly employed for the survey and soundings of the various channels and islands between the continent and Vancouver's island, a portion of the expenses of the Active being paid by the commission during the time that vessel was employed on this duty.
After the arrival of the British surveying steamer Plumper, Captain Richards co-operated with the United States Coast Survey vessels, and a thorough and complete survey of all the channels and islands between
the continent and Vancouver's island south of the 49th parallel was made.
The map above referred to is the result of this joint survey, which occupied several seasons.
In the summer of 1858 Colonel J. S. Hawkins, royal engineers, appointed by the British government commissioner to determine the boundary line along the 49th parallel, arrived from England with a suitable party organized for field operations. At the time of his arrival the excitement arising from the discovery of gold on Frazer river was at its height. This event caused for a time great increase in the price of labor and supplies, and created considerable embarrassment, delay, and additional expense in the field operations of the season.
A meeting of the joint commission was held for the purpose of agreeing upon a plan of field operations for the survey of the land boundary. The following is a copy of the arrangement made:
After discussing plans for determining and marking the live as far eastward as the Cascade mountains, it was concluded to be inexpedient at the present time, in consequence of the great expense, consumption of time, and the impracticable nature of the country, to mark the whole boundary by cutting a track through the deuse forest.
It was therefore agreed to ascertain points on the line by the determination of astronomical points at convenient intervals on or near the boundary, and to mark such astronomical stations, or points fixed on the parallel forming the boundary, by cutting a track of not less than 20 feet in width on each side for the distance of half a mile or more, according to circumstances. Further, that the boundary be determined and similarly marked where it crosses streams of any size, permanent trails, or any striking natural feature of the country.
In the vicinity of settlements on or near the line, it is deemed advisable to cut the track for a greater distance, and to mark it in a manner to be determined hereafter.
The work of running and marking the land boundary was carried on through a country previously almost unknown. The 49th parallel extends over rugged and precipitous mountains that attain great elevation, and in the Cascade range, on and near the boundary, perpetual snow covers many of the peaks, whose northern gorges are filled up with immense glaciers. The timber on the western slope of the Cascade mountains is dense, being a heavy growth of pine and fir, that in many places stands over a fallen forest not yet decayed. This is the character of the country as far eastward as the valley of Similkameen river, one of the tributaries of the Columbia. Here the timber becomes more open and surveying operations less difficult.
After passing the Okinokane river, which is the lowest line of the great valley between the Cascade and the Rocky mountains, the country again becomes rough and the timber more dense, but less so than the western slope of the Cascade mountains.
It being impossible to follow the 49th parallel continuously, the line of survey was carried over the nearest practicable route for a pack trail, connecting each astronomical station, making a total length of line of survey of about 800 miles. Astronomical stations were established by parties of the joint commission at almost every accessible point from which the boundary line is ascertained, and marked by a vista across all valleys and trails, where rough stone monuments were erected over posts buried in the ground to indicate the exact line.
The reconnaissance work extends over an area of about 30,000 square miles. Within this space the barometrical heights of over 800 points have been obtained:
A magnetic survey, extending over a range of 30 20' in latitude and 40 in longitude, with the necessary observations of the magnetic elements of the astronomical stations, was also made.
The entire length of the land boundary line is over 90 in longitude, or about 410 miles, and the length of the route travelled in surveying it is double that distance. Trails had to be opened for three-fourths of the distance travelled, involving great labor in cutting, grading, and bridg. ing to make the route practicable for pack-mule transportation. The water-courses were numerous and rapid, rendering the fords frequent and dangerous; and a slight rise of many of the streams would have made them impassable but for the timely precaution of building bridges at small streams and ferry boats at the river crossings. Many of the trails opened are now travelled routes to the mines then and since discovered, which are rapidly developing that section of the country, where almost every valley of any extent affords facilities for agricultural pursuits.
In collating the results of the survey, reports upon the geology, botany, and natural history of the country reconnoitred were prepared, and complete maps, on a large scale, made of the entire boundary and the adjacent country. A general map has also been made, showing the extent of the country traversed. And to facilitate the survey of the public lands, photographic duplicates of the detailed sheets, showing each monument on the boundary line, with its geographical position, were furnished to the General Land Office. Photographic duplicates of the detailed sheets of the water boundary have also been made and furnished the Department of State in illustration of the question of the boundary channel. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Commissioner Northwest Boundary Survey. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
A.-Statement of expenses of running and marking the northroest boundary line between the United States and the British Possessions bounding on Washington
Territory, to December 31, 1868.